Xbox One: The launch lineup

LEE HENAGHAN
Last updated 15:28 06/12/2013

After taking a look at the hardware at the heart of the Xbox One in my last column, I was reasonably impressed with the power and potential of Microsoft's entry to the next generation of console gaming.

As multi-media becomes the norm and we rely on several screens across a variety of devices for entertainment, information and communication; a box that attempts to tie everything together and serve as an all-encompassing media hub is an intriguing prospect.

However, despite its pretensions to become ''more than a games machine'', there's no escaping the fact that it will always be seen as one, and the quality and popularity of its games is what will ultimately decide its success.

First impressions are all important, especially when launching a new console - a ''killer app'' or must-have title can help it fly out of the blocks, while a succession of duds can leave a machine facing an uphill struggle. With that in mind, let's take a closer look at some of the early additions to the Xbox One's launch library:

Forza Motorsport 5. $109.

Long regarded as the best driving game on the market, the Forza series is a petrolhead's dream. The latest update features the same depth and playability you'd expect from a Forza game and delivers it with more style, speed and slickness than ever before.

Easily the best looking racer on any console, Forza 5 is a the perfect advert for the Xbox One's graphical capabilities, with photorealistic visuals that are almost indistinguishable from real life.

The only downside is a worrying focus on micro-transactions - with cold hard cash required to unlock some premium cars and features. These pay-to-play options are expected in freemium and mobile games, but coughing up $80 for a virtual car harder to swallow when you've already shelled out $100+.

A recent patch has re-balanced the game to be slightly less money-grubbing, but the move towards fleecing players at every turn is a worrying one.

Dead Rising 3. $109.

Capcom's zombie splatterfest returns as an Xbox One exclusive, and for the most part serves up more of the same tongue-in-cheek mayhem.

Once again you're required to scavenge a post-apocalyptic city for parts to cobble together outlandish weapons, as well as rescuing survivors and finding silly costumes along the way.

While it isn't quite as visually impressive as other next-gen titles, it still manages to pack in some wow factor by rendering hordes of undead monsters on a scale far beyond any of the earlier games.

Cutting a swathe through a writhing mass hundreds of zombies deep has never been so satisfying, especially when you're doing it dressed as a Rastafarian banana and using a rocket-powered lawnmower. Heaps of fun.

FIFA 14 - $98.

The best way to measure the step up from previous to current-gen is to compare the same title across platforms. If FIFA 14 as any example, this is one small step for gamers but one giant leap for the industry.

Graphics are noticeably sharper; movement is smoother and player animations more detailed and lifelike. Off the pitch, each individual fan in a crowd of thousands is individually rendered and reacts to match events independently.

The introduction of EA Sports' new Ignite engine makes FIFA 14 even more realistic with dynamic player collisions and intelligent off-the-ball runs.

The interface is largely the same as last year's edition but the presentation has been refined, gameplay tweaked and features modified to make this a high point for the franchise.

Factor in a Legends mode, exclusive to Xbox One, allowing you to add the likes of Pele, Bergkamp and Maradona to your Ultimate Team, and you have the definitive version of the best football game ever.


Battlefield 4. $98

Another of EA's cross-gen title that benefits hugely from improved technology, Battlefield 4 on Xbox One narrows the gap between the stripped down 360/PS3 versions of the game and the all-singing, all dancing PC edition.

Higher-resolution graphics and more detailed textures give everything a noticeably more realistic look, improved draw distances allow you to see enemies from miles away and the game's vast maps become even more tactical and strategic when populated by up to 64 players in every online match.

The single-player campaign is a little disappointing, with shoddy AI and weak dialogue making it feel like a slap-dash afterthought, but when the multiplayer component is so impressive, it's easy to overlook.

With the distinctly uninspiring Call of Duty: Ghosts the only other first-person-shooter on Xbox One so far, if you're looking for an next-gen FPS, Battlefield 4 will definitely give you more bang for your buck.

Ryse: Son of Rome

Arguably the most visually stunning game in the Xbox One's launch library, the Roman hack n' slash adventure Ryse is definitely one to fire up if you're looking to show your mates what your new console is capable of.

While the graphics are nothing short of jaw-dropping, unfortunately the gameplay isn't quite as impressive, with a basic combat system leading to a repetitive and samey experience that soon becomes a tedious button-basher.

The game's gruesome execution animations, while initially mesmerising, lose their lustre after the 500th limb has been hacked off.

On the plus side, a well-written story, decent voice acting and epic set pieces manage to keep you invested but Ryse definitely a case of style over substance.

- (Live Matches)

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